Tag Archive | stories

The Littlest Druid Celebrates Samhain

Aisling sat at the edge of the turnip field, a pile of perfect turnips piled beside her. She only needed one more. Her teacher had sent her out here to select the nine turnips that would be carved into lanterns to represent the skulls of the people who had died in the village for the procession on Samhain. Her teacher had told her that they used to use the skulls of people who had died. She was glad they had switched to turnips. She knew death was a part of life but she didn’t want to see the skull of her friend Beith that had died this year. She missed her so much. It still hurt to lose her.

It was an honor to be picked for this job. She had to find the biggest and most perfect turnips for the lanterns. This wasn’t easy because turnips grow underground and she had to choose hers before they started harvesting the field. She was supposed to pull the turnips that called out to her and those would be the right ones and she had one left to go. She wanted the absolute most perfect one for Beith.

She closed her eyes and reached her hands out trying to feel which one in the field was calling her. She felt a tug from the left and started to walk that in that direction. She kept her hand out and cautiously walked across the field. She closed her eyes and stood still and put her hands out again. It was close by, she could tell and someone put a turnip in her hand.

Aisling’s eyes flew up and a woman smiled at her.

“I think this is the one you need for Beith.” The woman said as she handed Aisling the turnip. It was a lovely one. Beautiful clear white and just an edging of purple around the top and it was clean with no soil clinging to it.

Aisling knew she had been alone in the field but it was the gloaming time and she was well aware anything could happen in the between times and for her it usually did.

Aisling studied the woman and was trying to figure out who she was when the woman said to her, “I’m Anann. I’m the one who came for Beith. She wanted you to know she is doing well but she still loves and misses you.”

Aisling felt a lump in her throat. She swallowed trying to keep it down. She didn’t want to cry in front of the goddess. Anann reached her hand out and smoothed Aisling’s hair which really didn’t help at all.

“She’s happy and safe and not in pain anymore?” Aisling finally got out.

“She is happy and safe and not in pain anymore. She and the priestess you helped have a message for you.”

“They do?” Ailsing wasn’t sure how that worked.

“They want you to know they are always around if you need them and that someday they will be back.” Anann told her.

“I so want to carry Beith’s lantern in the procession. Do you think that they will let me?” Aisling asked beginning to relax.

I don’t think the Chief Druid would have it any other way but you know you will be the youngest in the procession?”

Aisling nodded. She really wanted to honour her friend and not do anything wrong. Samhain was too important a time and she wanted Beith to be proud of her and know she still loved her.

Anann spoke and it was if she had heard Aisling’s thoughts. “She is proud of you all the time because you don’t give up and you’re always learning. Do you know what my job is?” asked the goddess.

Aisling thought and remembered, “To comfort the dying, and to make the fields fertile and to protect the cattle.”

Anann laughed, “Good! That’s some of it. I also teach the dying about their existence after they die and help them get ready to return. You know how your teacher told you that you are supposed to rejoice when people die because they are being born into the Otherworld?”

Aisling nodded again. She still didn’t feel like rejoicing that her best friend in the whole world was gone and it made her choke up again and start being angry. How was that something to rejoice about?

Anann looked at her. “The rejoicing part is the hardest, isn’t it? You still want and miss your friend. She still wants and misses you too but part of life is learning to let go and rejoicing when someone dies hurts. There is no way out of that but you need to know that that is you hurting and she doesn’t hurt any longer. No pain and no strife, she is at peace.”

Aisling was beginning to see the pain was about her. “Am I being selfish when I miss her so much?”

“No, you’re being human and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’d worry about you a lot if you didn’t.”

“You would?”

“Aisling, you are going to be a very good druid, maybe even a great druid and the best druids have felt all emotions and know that other people feel them too. They learn that everything isn’t about them. It’s about the all, everything and everyone that exists.”

Aisling was quiet for a bit. “Is it okay if I still miss her a lot.”

“Always, it will just hurt less and you will start to have more happy memories than sad ones.”

“Really?” Ailsing asked.

“Really and it’s even alright if you cry during the procession and the ceremony. It shows you loved someone.”

Anann hugged Aisling, “Don’t you need to take these and go help carve them into lanterns?”

Aisling grabbed her sack and started stuffing the turnips into the bag she’d brought.

“Not so fast, you don’t want to bruise them.” Laughed Anann and she helped Aisling put the turnips in more carefully.

“I’ll be watching tomorrow night with the rest of your dead. Be well, Aisling, you will be fine,” and Anann walked to the end of the field and was gone.

******

The next night Aisling lined up with the others. She was last in line with her lantern. She was very proud of the carving she had done. She thought she had captured Beith’s smile just right. They started the procession and Aisling started to weep. She missed her friend but it was going to be all right. She thought she got a glimpse of Anann, Beith and the Priestess in the crowd but it was hard to see by the light of the turnip lanterns and she couldn’t be sure. When she got to the hall where they were going to have a feast and celebrate the lives of their dead, the Chief Druid caught her eye and winked.

“What was that about?”

This post references the events in this story: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-loss/

and this one: http://thelittlestdruid.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/the-littlest-druid-learns-about-healing/

The Littlest Druid solves a mystery

Once upon a time, things were disappearing all over the village. Aisling was horribly worried that she was going to be blamed but she knew she wasn’t doing it but who was?

First the Chief Druid’s beautiful golden torc had disappeared. Then the Silver branch the bards had on their altar was gone and the Chief Bard was really mad. All that was left was one silver bell. Aisling could hear his booming voice all over the village as he raged. The head Healer was missing her favourite shiny cloak pin that was shaped like a mistletoe leaves and berries.

These were all very special items and some of them were very magical so for them to disappear was a big problem. There had been councils all day and they Chief Bard was threatening to go through everyone’s personal chests! That just wasn’t done! The village depended on trusting everyone there and things were getting bad.

The Teacher had gathered her students and gone into the forest the next morning to have a lesson on sacred woods and their characteristics in wand lore and divination and Aisling already was getting a bit bored on this fine spring morning.

She had been watching a deer and her fawn walk quietly past the group and when they left, she watched the hares that were frolicking in a clearing behind them. It was then she looked up and saw the raven looking at her.

Why was a raven looking at her? She hoped she wasn’t going to have another encounter with another one of the Tuatha De Dannaan that was getting a bit scary. Lugh, Brighid and Airmid were all right but she didn’t think meeting the Morrigan was what she wanted to meet right now. She only saw one raven so maybe that was okay.

The raven stared down at her and was looking her right in the eye with a cocked head. The teacher was talking about the properties of yew versus elder woods and since they both smelled good to her and it was warm in the sun of the clearing Aisling didn’t really care. She was just glad no one was yelling and she wanted to know what that raven was up to.

The raven hopped down the branch still looking at Aisling. Aisling got the distinct feeling that she was supposed to follow the silly bird. The bird flew to the next tree and sat waiting looking at Aisling. Aisling crept away and looked up the tree. The raven flew to the next tree and AIsling followed. This went on until Aisling and the Raven were quite deep in the forest. Aisling was wondering how long this was going to go on when the Raven stopped by her enormous nest. It wasn’t far off the ground and Ailing stood on tiptoe and looked in.

Aisling’s eyes opened wide, there were all the beautiful things that were missing and a lot more, sparkly shells from the beach, shiny agates from the streams, bits of bright cloth that had been stolen from clootie collection tree by a well. The nest was stuffed to the top with things that were precious to someone and she supposed precious to the raven. The raven worriedly hopped down to Aisling with the Bard’s branch in one claw. It was obvious to Aisling the bird knew she was in trouble. The raven dropped the branch in Aisling’s waiting hands and cocked her head.

What was Aisling going to do? If she returned it everyone would be sure she had taken it and demand all the other missing items. This was not good!

The bird hopped back to her nest and pulled out the missing brooch and dropped it to Aisling too.

“Oh, no, you don’t. I’m not being blamed for this.” Aisling said firmly to the bird. “I’ll take responsibility for things I do but I’m not taking the blame for your thievery!”

“I’ll be cleaning up poop in the stable for years because they will be sure I did it!” Aisling shook a finger at the bird.

The Raven stepped worriedly from side to side on the branch and hopped back up and grabbed the Chief Druid’s torc and dropped it on Aisling.

“Nope, I’m still not taking them back for you. If you want to return them YOU have to come with me.”

The Raven jumped in her nest and hunched down.

“They keep telling us about personal responsibility and owning up to our faults. We even had to do a ritual about it. I’m not taking responsibility for something I didn’t do. If you want to return these and stop the yelling, you have to come with me!” Aisling was roaring at the bird. The Raven ducked its head and looked thoughtful and Aisling began to get worried. What is she was yelling at one of the Morrigan? That might be a lot worse than stable duty. Meeting the banshee was scary enough for her.

“How about if you come with me? If we do this together it might not be so bad for both of us?” Aisling asked the bird.

The Raven walked up and down the branch with her head tucked down and her wings stuck out behind her. The Raven looked disturbing like the Chief Ovate when he was thinking about a particularly knotty problem and that made Aisling want to giggle. The Raven looked at Aisling and hopped down the branch towards her looking Aisling right in the eye and then flew and landed on Aisling’s shoulder.

Now what had she done? The bird was enormous and a lot heavier than it looked. The Raven settled in and started to groom Aisling’s hair.

“Hey! Stop that! I said we could do this together. I didn’t tell you I needed a cleaning! I don’t have bugs!”

Aisling headed back to where her class had been. She hoped she hadn’t been gone too long but Aisling got back to the group just as they were collecting their things. The Teacher looked at Aisling and then she looked at the Raven and at what Aisling was carrying in her hands and shook her head.

“Only you, Aisling, only you.” The Teacher laughed and started back.

They got back to the village and walked to the grassy gathering area. The Chief Bard was still yelling. Aisling wondered at his lung power and he lunged at Aisling when he saw what she was holding.

“YEOOOOW!” he shouted holding his head and jumping back. The raven had pecked him sharply on the top of the head and then on his hand.

The Chief Druid was laughing at his colleague. “I think you have been warned.” He said in his mild voice. “I don’t think Aisling is the one who did this.” The Chief Druid was looking at the raven who really was a beautiful bird. She shimmered in the sun with colours of purple and green in her feathers and the raven was looking back at him, daring him to say anything.

The raven hopped down off Aisling’s shoulder onto her forearm and grabbed the torc. She then flew over and dropped it at the Chief Druid’s feet and landed and ducked her head. She should have looked penitent but since she was also looking up with a calculating eye at the Chief Druid this wasn’t quite working. The Chief Druid reached down and picked it up.

“Thank you for returning this, it means a lot to me,” and he bowed to the raven. The raven bowed back. Aisling was amazed. If she had done this the yelling would be deafening. Aisling handed the silver branch to the glowering Chief Bard and then took the brooch to the head Healer who had just arrived.

The raven flew back up to Aisling’s shoulder and settled in against her red hair.

“It seems you solved a mystery and made a new friend. I never know what you’re going to do next but I look forward to learning what it will be.” The Chief Druid motioned to the dining hall. “Isn’t it lunch time? I’m hungry!” and headed off towards the noon meal.

Why the Air sings

Once upon a time the Air was very quiet. There was no sound as she moved across the Earth and Water. This used to scare the Earth quite a lot and it also made the Air lonely. No one ever greeted her or played with her because they didn’t know Air was there.

The other Elements got together for a meeting. “This has got to stop!” said the Earth. “How can we work together and play together when we never know she’s there!”

“We can’t see her or hear her. How can we change that?” said Fire.

“We need her to make some noise. Can we teach her to sing?” pondered Water.

“Hmmm, maybe I can.” contemplated the Earth. “I’m tired of getting spooked and when she knows she’s frightened us she gets even quieter!”

So the Earth put a mountain where she thought the Air was and sure enough the Air tried very shyly to creep around the mountain. “Please stop and stay for a bit.” the Earth said to the Air.

“Why? said the Air. “Why do you want me to stay?” the Air was moving in slow spirals.

“Because we want to get to know you and you never play with us. May I teach you to sing?” said the Earth. “We’d like you to play with us and we can see you or hear you and if you would sing with us I think we’d all be happier.

“You want me to play and sing with you?” asked the Air.

“Yes! You are the only one who doesn’t play with us and we would like you to join us and be friends.” said the Earth.

“Really? You want me to play with you? cried the Air. “I’ve been lonely and I didn’t know if I was welcome.”

“How do you know if you aren’t welcome if you don’t come and find out.” asked the Earth. “So, do you want to learn to sing or not?”

“Oh, yes! said the Air, “Yes, what do I do?”

“See the trees on this mountain? They have leaves that if you move against them will make a lovely sound. And if you move around this mountain quickly that will make a different sound. Why don’t you try that and then I think Water has some sounds to teach you as well.” explained the Earth.

The Air started through the trees and it made a lovely rustling noise and she tried moving slowly and then quickly and she found she could vary and change the sound with different speeds. Then she tried moving up down and around the mountain. That made fun noises too. The Air was getting more and more excited. This was fun!

Air went to find Water. “Hello Water! What can you teach me? I’m so excited!”

“I can see that,” laughed the Water. “I take it Earth found you and showed you how to sing with the trees?”

Oh, yes! And it’s lovely.’ said Air. “How did you know I could sing?”

“I heard you and I liked what I heard,” laughed Water. “Would you like to try some more sounds?”

“Please?” sang Air.

“All right. Please move across the lake here and see if you can make the tops dance and then you can try the ocean. If you push it around I’m sure it will make some lovely sounds.” explained the Water. “When you’re done, why don’t you try Fire?”

The Air went and played across the lakes and learned wonderful splashing sounds. She stayed and played for awhile and then went to try the ocean. She found she could make huge booming sounds and little splashing sounds and this taught her a new sound, giggling. This pleased her very much and she went to find Fire.

“Fire! I’m having so much fun playing with the Earth and the Water. I can make noise! Will you teach me too?” Air was very excited and moving in quick little eddies.

“Of course,” said Fire. “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. There is a nice campfire down the way. Why don’t you try playing with her and then you can work your way up to one of my volcanoes.”

Air went to the campfire and sound she could make nice crackling noises but she had to be careful. She didn’t want to get out of control and hurt something. She went and found the volcano and saw that she could make loud booming noises as well as small dripping and glooping noises. Air was very happy and noticed that playing with the other Elements was fun. The Elements were happier too and that is why Air sings. They were supposed to work together and now they could. All was in balance and good in the World.

The little cloud who wouldn’t rain

Once upon a time there was a cloud. She wasn’t a big cloud and she wasn’t really a small cloud. She was a nice medium cloud who lived in a herd of clouds. Cloud had a problem or at least the other clouds thought so. Cloud wouldn’t rain. Day after day cloud went along in the herd of clouds and while the other clouds were dropping their rain and throwing thunder and lightning at each other in their day games, Cloud would not.

This made the Head Cloud very angry. Cloud was not doing what she was supposed to do. This was not right or good. All his clouds should behave themselves and not make trouble. So he went to Cloud.

“Cloud, what’s our job?” he asked.

“To rain where it is needed and wanted.’ Replied Cloud calmly.

“NNNNNNNNOOOOOO!” thundered the Head Cloud. “We rain when we hit a mountain range. We rain when we group together and we rain when I say so!” The Head Cloud moved ponderously away looking blacker every moment.

Cloud had a feeling there was a really big storm coming but it really didn’t matter because she wasn’t going to rain here and he could yell all he wanted. “We rained here yesterday and they don’t need it here. It rained too much as it was and people were still cleaning up.”

They had rudely gotten shoved up against a mountain by a Hurricane and that made the Head Cloud mad so he rained and he had rained hard. Cloud thought they should only rain when and where it was needed but she was the only one that thought that way and sometimes that was lonely. She thought if she could just get over the mountain where it almost never rained she would do it but she would have to break free and that was hard for a cloud. Clouds tend to stick together.
This continued on for many days. And the Head Cloud thundered at her more and more. He just couldn’t understand that she had to do it just right. But one day the Hurricane blew again and Cloud decided she would try and get to the edge ahead of the group. Maybe she could get away.

They were being pushed faster and faster and the cloud was getting heavier and heavier as she picked up moisture the closer she got to the front of the cloud bank. She… needed… to… hold…on…just … a …little… longer…. And with one final shove from the Hurricane and the bank of clouds behind her she was free and roaring down the other side of the mountain. “Whhhhhhhhhhheeeee!”.
She was freeeeeeeeeeeeee. Now what? The other side of the mountain was barren. No one seemed to live here. It was the perfect place to rain but something was happening. It was hot here and she was beginning to feel lighter. “Uh oh!” She needed to rain and she needed to rain now!
And she tried and she tried but she could feel the heat from below making the water leave her but she could hear a noise behind her. And it was getting louder so she looked back the way she had come and the cloud bank was coming over the mountain! And some of her friends were leading the way racing down the mountain to join her.

And the more the clouds came, the more cool it got and less water left the cloud. When they were finally all around her the cloud was happy. She had missed them and not even known it. The Head Cloud caught up with her.

“Now will you rain?” he roared. As he looked around at the sand and spindly cactus and a lone flock of sheep that if you looked just right looked an awful lot like those clouds.

“Yes!” and she started to rain. She rained on the desert that was so dry and she watched something happen below. It was magic. Almost immediately pools appeared and she saw a tortoise find it. And then in the blink of an eye flowers and grass appeared. This made the sheep happy and because it cooled the shepherd, he was happy too. The little cloud was ecstatic. This was how it was supposed to be. She decided no matter how the Head Cloud thundered at her, she was only going to rain where she was needed.   

And that is why on some spring days if you live in a desert you see one lone medium size cloud. She’s looking to go where she is needed but look quickly because the rest of the clouds might be right behind her.

The Littlest Druid celebrates Lughnasad

Once upon a time the Littlest Druid got an idea. She wanted to do something special for the feast of Lughnasadh. Her teacher had told them all about Lugh and his feast day. She knew it was a feast of thanksgiving to celebrate the first harvest of grain of the year. It had been a good long and warm summer so the corn and barley had grown strong and tall in the fields. That meant people would have bread for the year and ale to drink on cold winter nights.

 
Her teacher had told them about the Lugh, the long arm, whose face was as bright as the sun. She had told them he was a wright, a smith, a champion, a horseman, a hero. He was also a swordsman, a harpist, a poet, a historian, a craftsman and a sorcerer. She thought he might be kind of scary and she wasn’t good at anything.

 
Her teacher told them that at the feast all the adults would get up and share some creation that they had made that year to honour Lugh. Aisling decided she wanted to share something too, but what? She wouldn’t be old enough to share for a lot more years but she really wanted to. She was always messing up and she wanted to show the grown up Druids that she was good at something. She really wanted to do it for the Chief Druid. He was always so nice to her when he didn’t have to be. He could have sent her home long ago but he hadn’t. He truly believed she would be a good Druid some day. Aisling had no idea why he believed it but he had told her so on one of their many talks after she had messed up again… So Aisling decided to see what she could share.

 
She visited the spinners and weavers and asked to help but her thread was lumpy and rather grey looking when she was done. Not every good at all. The head Weaver kindly said she could use it to make burlap sacking and Aisling left the weaving barn.
Next she decided to observe the Smith from outside the Smithy. It was really interesting to watch him shoe the big horses but as the Smith was banging a horseshoe into shape a piece of hot iron flew off and landed all the way outside and on Aisling’s  bare foot. She went hopping and howling around for a few moments while the Smith howled himself with laughter. She decided she wasn’t cut out to be a Smith.

 
She went to the tanner and the leather workers but that barn just stunk so much. How did they stand it? They must have lost their senses of smell. Peeewwwwoooooeeeeee.

 
She went and listened to the Bards practice. She wouldn’t begin to study with them until next year so she was curious about what happened so she spied through the window in their cottage. Three of them were lying with their eyes closed and wrapped in sheep skins. She thought that looked rather hot in this summer weather. While she was sitting there a drowsy bee came along and Aisling swatted at it absentmindedly and got stung in her bum by the mad bumblebee. This woke up the drowsing Druids who were trying to compose their poems and all three of them ran out to chase her away.

 
By now she was getting desperate. She was never going to have anything to share and everyone would keep thinking she was bad at everything. She took herself off to the sheep field. She thought she’d talk to the sheep and the sheep dogs. She had become friends with the sheep after she had sat with them at Brighid and this was where she came now when she wanted to unload her burdens.

 
She trudged out to the pasture. She knew the Druid shepherds were probably napping in the sheep fold. They were older Druids who still liked to be useful but now needed an afternoon nap after lunch. They always told her they weren’t asleep when she woke them up accidently. They were just studying the wonderful colours inside their eyelids and getting ideas for art work. Aisling doubted this because there was snoring coming from the sheep fold and she never saw any sign of an art work back in the village.

 
She climbed the hill and sat next to her favourite mama ewe. The ewe came over and butted her gently and her lamb crawled into Aisling’s lap although it was getting a bit big for that.

 
“What am I going to do?” She said to the drowsing ewe and lamb. “I really want to show the Chief Druid I’m good at something. And I want a gift to offer at the feast tomorrow.” She sat hunched over in a dismal lump. She knew if she sat that way in class her teacher would tell her to sit up straight but out here there was no one but the ewe to tell her so, so she didn’t.

 

“You there! Sit up.”

 
Aisling sat bolt upright. Who was that? She looked around and from the west where the sun was beginning to set came the shape of a man. She couldn’t see him clearly because the sun was behind him. All she could see was his shape.

 
“Who are you?” asked Aisling as the man came and sat down beside her. He was tall with very golden hair and a smile that made Aisling want to smile.

 
“Why so glum?” The man asked. “Isn’t tonight the big feast? I would think you would be excited to celebrate the feast. I hear the sharing afterwards is going to be really good this year.” He picked up a piece of grass and started to use it as a whistle.

 
“I wanted to share this year. I wanted to do something for the Chief Druid.” Aisling said quietly, “but I’m not good at anything I try. I just make messes of things.”

 
“Well, this lamb seems to like you a lot and this ewe doesn’t seem to think you are bad at anything. She doesn’t usually make friends of people.”

 
“How do you know that?” Aisling asked suspiciously. Only two people knew why this sheep liked her and one was a goddess. Of course, he could have been a friend of the Chief Druid, he knew but she didn’t think he had told anyone.
”Can you sing?” asked the man.

 
“The teacher says I can but that I need to grow some.”

 
“Well then, let’s write you a song.” The man laughed like that was the easiest thing in the world but she had just seen the Bards and they hadn’t made it look easy. Aisling looked at him doubtfully. He was kind of muscle bound for one of the creative types but she’d seen stranger things like stones dancing so who knew?

 
He started to hum a really pretty tune with his blade of grass. “Hum that back to me.” The man said so she did.

 
“Very good. Now what do you want to say?”

 
“I wanted it to say thanks for all our blessings, for the clean air and the clean streams, for all the people who make our food. I want to say thanks for being alive and being able to dance and sing. I really want to say thank you.”

 
The man nodded, “All great things, how about this,” and the two of them sat together and wrote a thanksgiving song for her to sing. It was almost time for the feast and the man indicated with a nod toward the village that it was time to go. Aisling grabbed his hand and they walked toward the village. Aisling was so excited she had something to share that it didn’t occur to her she still didn’t know the man’s name.
Aisling walked into the banquet hall and everyone became quiet and stared. This made her panic. She was in her best tunic and trews and she knew she was still clean. Maybe she had a grass stain she didn’t know about. Then she realized they were staring at the man who was holding her hand.

 
“I came to celebrate with you. Is there room?” the man boomed into the banquet hall. The Chief Druid came over to them and made a place at the head table for both of them. Guests were always honoured so Aisling didn’t think it was that unusual. She couldn’t figure out why the Chief Druid hadn’t sent her to sit with her teacher but she knew he liked her and assumed she was there because she brought the guest.
The supper started and all the good smelling foods were brought out and everyone ate and forgot about the stranger Aisling had brought to dinner. They were enjoying the foods and their friends and the rewards of their labours.

 
Soon it was time for the sharing and the tables were put away and everyone made themselves comfortable. The stranger stood up.

 
“We have a sharing!” He brought out the blade of grass and pulled Aisling up beside him.

 
“Aisling and I have a song to share to thank you for this wonderful feast.”
He started the pretty tune and Aisling started to sing with her eyes closed the song that they had written together. She didn’t see him start to shine nor did she see the shock on the older Druids faces. She just sang her heart out until the end of the song and the tune stopped. She opened her eyes and looked up at her new friend and her mouth dropped open. She knew who he was now. She had brought Lugh to his own feast! She’d done it again!

 
Lugh looked down at her. “Never be afraid that being friendly or kind is a bad thing.”
Lugh marched to the center of the gathering and grabbed a horn full of new beer from an astonished Druid. He shouted, “Slainte’”, took a deep drink and walked out the door and disappeared.
Aisling sat down with a bump and looked at the Chief Druid. He looked down at her kindly, “You make friends of the most interesting people,” and just started to laugh as he hugged her. “You do just fine.”

The Littlest Druid and the roses

Once upon a beautiful summer time, the Littlest Druid was out on the moor alone. She had been given an assignment by the Chief Druid. She was to sit and watch a wild rose bush. This was about the silliest thing she’d had been made to do yet.

She wondered if she had made so much trouble that she was being punished as far a way from the village as they could send her. She wondered if this was it. It had been hours and she was just supposed to watch this dumb old rose bush. Back in the village, work was going on as usual and she wanted to help. She really did.

It had been a great Beltane yesterday and it was time to clean up. The May pole had to be taken down and it was time for the sheep to be moved to a new pasture up the mountain. It was time to start brewing the summer ale so it would be ready for the harvest festival. The weavers were going to be carding wool so they could start weaving warm winter leggings and tunics. She had grown so much over the winter she was going to need all new clothes. Things were starting to pull and her leggings were way too short. 

She looked down at her bare feet and wiggled her toes. Summer was nice. It was a warm day and the sun was shining down brightly for the first time this year. So far she had seen a family of rabbits hopping in and out under the wild rose. It was just starting to bloom and the lovely pink blossoms were nodding on the breeze and she was starting to get a little sleepy. 

Suddenly there was a lot of howling and there was a big dog chasing a very small rabbit who was running as fast as it could for the rose. Aisling didn’t know whether to try and stop the dog or save the rabbit. She sat frozen in place but the rabbit dove under the rose and the dog ended up with a snoot full of thorns. Aisling relaxed. Served that old dog right chasing that bunny. Bunny hadn’t been doing anything but playing on the moor. She watched the dog slink off toward the village. She thought he was heading for the healers. That wasn’t going to be fun to have all those thorns removed.

She sat watching bees go in and out of the roses and hoped that they were going to be making lots and lots of honey. Honey meant honey cakes and spread for bread with new butter. It meant that those nasty medicines the healers made would taste better. It meant the Brewer would be happy making mead. Honey just seemed to make things happier even if you had to persuade the bees that it was a good thing to share. She watched them bumble along in their bumbly way. It was fun to watch them. 

She sat watching absolutely still when a deer came up and started to munch on the rose blossoms. She wanted to shoo him away. No flowers, no honey but the Chief Druid had said she wasn’t to move and she wasn’t to make a single sound if she could so she sat watching. 

The deer suddenly got a mouthful of thorns and reared back and decided the roses were too much trouble and headed off for the stream near by. And still Aisling sat. She couldn’t figure out what she was supposed to see sitting here and she was getting really bored. She was getting really suspicious about why she had been sent out here. They just wanted to do things without her being around. She knew it had to be because she punched one of the older boys who kept pulling her braids yesterday. It had really hurt and she wasn’t sorry she had done it either. He deserved it. Maybe not where she had hit him but it was as high as she could punch and it had been funny to watch him roll around on the ground. She hadn’t hit him that hard.

She watched the little wrens flying in and out of the thicket and wondered where their nests were inside the bush. She bet they were nice and cozy and she could hear the sleepy tweets of baby birds. She wondered if the mama and daddy birds got tired to feeding the hungry baby birds because there were a lot of worms going into that bush. 

The sun was starting to set in the west when the Chief Druid came and sat down beside her. She had just gotten the idea for a pretty tune and was humming to herself not nearly as bored as she thought she would be after a day on the moor. 

They sat quietly watching the sun set behind the thicket and watching the swallows and the bats come out in the gloaming to hunt their dinners. 

The Chief Druid said quietly, “What did you see today?”

“I saw the rabbits that live in the thicket and I watched a big dog try to catch one and he missed and he got thorns up his nose. I saw a deer eating the roses but the thorns made it seem like too much work and he left. I watched the bees getting their pollen for honey and I saw all the birds who make their home in the roses.” 

“Why do you think the rose has so many animal friends?” The Druid asked.

Aisling thought for a long while, “Because the rose is a safe place to be?” 

“Very good,” said the Chief Druid nodding his head and watching the skies. 

“What else? Why do you think it’s a safe place?”

“Because the rose is big and has sharpthorns and can protect itself when it needs to?” She looked up at the Chief Druid.

“How does it protect itself?” asked the Druid.

“By just being what she is?” said Aisling thoughtfully.

“So why are you out here watching a wild rose bush?” He asked looking at her directly for the first time. 

Aisling thought for a long while, “I think it was naughty to hit someone where they really hurt and not just try a nicer way to protect myself. That I can be useful and helpful with just by being me and helping with what I’m asked to do.” 

“Exactly,” said the Chief Druid, “And that it’s okay to defend yourself without getting to aggressive or mean?” He looked down at her smiling.

“He did look really funny though rolling all over on the ground and howling like that.”

The Chief Druid raised an eyebrow and then started to laugh. “Yes, he did, didn’t he? I think maybe he’ll have second thoughts about bothering you for awhile, especially since he spent the day cleaning the pig pens.” 

They both were laughing as they walked back to the village in the gentle twilight.

The Heart Town Witch learns to sing

A story by elfkat aka Kat Robb

Once upon a time for that is how all good stories begin there was a town called Heart Town. Heart Town was a beautiful place. It was neat and tidy with everything just so and the people were pretty too. They were all made of crystal and where most people’s meat hearts should be they had a heart of red crystal. Those hearts were all tied up with ribbons of every colour because in this town when you were loved by someone your heart received a ribbon tied in a bow of their colour. Everyone in this town had many, many ribbons tied around their hearts all tied in different kinds of bows. Silly bows, foofy bows, simple bows as individual as the people that had tied them.

A shy witch had moved to this town and her name was Fay. Well, that’s what the Mayor of the town had decided she could be called. Her real name was Penelope Faery Rainbow which was just not a good name for a witch. Names are funny things once you are given them they don’t go away because they define at least part of who you are so somewhere deep inside she was Penelope Faery Rainbow but not most of the time.

Every Sunday night something wonderful happened in this town. At the stroke of seven on the town clock everyone started to sing. First the people’s hearts started to chime with a lovely sweet sound and then the people would sing with their hearts. One person in town wasn’t singing but no one knew this, yet…

The shy and formerly lonely witch, Miss Fay wasn’t. She sat alone in her fantastically turreted and towered house and listened and wished she knew how to join in. Miss Fay had moved to this town as a grown up and had no idea how to make her heart chime or how to sing along with the people. She just didn’t know the song that everyone else had learned as a child. So she sat in her big stuffed green chair and listened to the town every Sunday night.

Once she had known this happened every Sunday night she made sure she was home that night. She didn’t want to be embarrassed about not knowing how to sing or chime her heart. So she sat at home and dreamily listened while sipping her tea and wished she could join in. It never occurred to her she could just ask someone how. She was still new to this friend making thing. She had only just told people her name a bit ago. She thought maybe she could ask the Mayor how they did it but she would feel so silly and stupid she hadn’t done it yet. Maybe she would do it next time the Mayor came to tea. Maybe while he was trying one of her new pastries. He sure seemed to like them and he always took some home with him for his family. But the Mayor came to tea several times just to chat and see that she was all right but she couldn’t seem to get her courage together to ask him but then something changed.

She had lived in this town almost a whole year so she hadn’t been part of all the celebrations and town functions yet and one day she got an invitation in the mail. It was a lovely thing with ribbons and beautifully cut shapes and a painting of a red crystal heart on the front of the invitation. This was a very special invitation. Once a year the town’s people got together on a Sunday night and sang together. Everyone was invited and she could tell from the invitation that she really was expected to go. What was she going to do? She had no clue how to sing the song or make her heart make those beautiful sounds. Maybe she could say she was sick or move away before next year’s celebration? But she really loved living in her cozy funny looking house and she really loved her beautiful garden. She loved the weather in this town. It only rained when the weatherman said it would and stopped right on time when the garden had had just enough. So she always knew she could go up to her tiny observatory and watch the stars and planets. What was she going to do? She worried and she fretted and she put off replying to the invitation because she couldn’t figure out how to answer. And then the Mayor came to call…

Because sooner or later things that you have to do come back around and have consequences if you don’t do them and in this town the Mayor would come to your door to see if you were all right.

Miss Fay answered the knock on the door. The Mayor always knocked. He never poked the door bell. She thought was very strange but she was too shy to ask him why. Maybe on another day she would but today she was afraid it was about that beautiful invitation with the heart on the front. She opened the door slowly. And there stood the Mayor in his crisp black suit smiling at her. “Won’t you come in, Mr. Mayor?” She asked.

“You know I asked you to call me Ben way back before the garden party? “ The witch nodded shyly. She still was having a small bit of trouble calling people their names. It was just so personal.

“Why haven’t you replied to the invitation we sent out?” The Mayor, err, Ben asked.

The Witch looked down at her shoes. They were really quite interesting shoes. They were black and laced up and had a nice blocky heel and an opening where her big toe could peep out but they weren’t that interesting and sooner or later she was going to have to answer the Mayor.

“Won’t you come in Ben? I have some new chocolate pistachio bars for you to try.” And the Witch bustled off to her kitchen grateful she had thought to something to do besides look at her interesting shoes and her big toe.

When she had brought a tea tray back into the front room the Mayor was seated in his favourite overstuffed chair of deep blue. “You still haven’t answered my question.” said the Mayor.

The Witch looked down as she fixed her tea still unable to meet the Mayor’s kind eyes and she said in a very low voice. “I don’t know how to sing like everyone else does. I’d feel silly going and just standing there what if I can’t do it?”

The Mayor looked at her. “How do you know until you try, Miss Fay?” Miss Fay busied her self with the tea set and re-arranged the chocolate pistachio bars into a complex castle.

“Well, what if I can’t sing and everyone else can? I’ll just ruin your celebration and everyone will be mad at me.”

My family will come to escort you to the town square tomorrow night and we’ll just see how it goes. I promise it will be all right.” The Mayor stood up and thanked her for tea and left without giving her time or space to say no.

Miss Fay sat stunned. No one had ever done that to her before. Maybe she would just stay in her favourite pjs all day and he’d feel too embarrassed to make her go but she decided that the Mayor was a force of nature and just might make her go even in her favourite gnome pajamas. So the next night at a quarter to seven she sat in her white wicker chair out in the garden when the Mayor and his family all showed up to escort her. She went to meet them and walked between the Mayor and his tiny wife Milly followed by all the children. She thought there were six but they kept moving and messing up her count. They looked like three sets of twins but she couldn’t tell for sure and she was too shy to ask.

They arrived after the short walk at the town square where there was a statue of a heart with ribbons tied on it and the whole town was gathered around it in a large circle holding hands. Ben and Milly grabbed her hands so she couldn’t get away and the town clock started to strike seven and a weird thing started to happen in her chest. When the town’s people’s hearts started to chime her heart started to vibrate just a little bit and she heard a small sound from it. The Mayor and his wife turned to her and smiled.

“See, you’ll be just fine. You just have to listen and believe that you are part of all of us because if you are going to live here we are part of you too.” The Mayor whispered this in her ear. Everyone in town was starting to sing and she could feel it all through her body and she started to relax. It didn’t matter that she didn’t quite know the tune in her head her heart seemed to know it and that was all that mattered as she started to sing with the rest of the town. This was a good place to live and now every Sunday night she could sing and chime too. She liked that. It was good to be a part of something and the witch smiled and sang.